Disclaimer: its been long since I have blogged from a phone; almost 2 yrs. So pardon me for the errors and irregularities in the layout.
“Professor” she shouted, it sounded more like a cry of a six year old. He turned back and was surprised to see her. He didn’t recognise her though his fading memories told him that the face is familiar.
He didn’t move from where he stood. Slight drizzle left marks on his crisp blue shirt, the only shirt he had. She walked towards him and greeted him with a faint smile. “Do you remember me Sir?” she asked.
Age has left wrinkles on his face and mind. Memory played hide and seek with him. Sometimes he even forgot his way home! He was 73 and looked way older. Straining hard, he straightened himself; or he tried to, would be more appropriate. Age has eaten his strength like the termites have carved into the roof of the temple in the slum.
“You….i am sorry child. I am too old to even remember my name these days” he said, visibly embarrassed. She reminded him that he was his student when he taught Chemistry at the most prestigious graduate school in town. He smiled and nodded. He didn’t recognise her.
15 years is too long though it passed like a lightning in her life. Married and with no kids, she has been busy trying to forget her woes, she never notices how time left her stranded in this place.
“Where do you stay Sir?” she asked. He replied with an uncertainty “Near by”. For a moment she felt the roles that they played in the drama called life has reversed -she the professor and he the student. In his days, he was the most respected of all teachers. His classes were the most attended. They were more fun than any other means of the entertainment this wretched city offered then.
He didn’t speak, a drop of sweat on his forehead infused with the raindrop and streamed down his cheek. There was no scope of conversation at all, she realized. “Can I drop you somewhere?”. He looked at her for a moment and said, “No my child, I will walk”. That was a statement not an answer, which pushed her back into his Chemistry classes. He always addressed his students as his child, she remembered. “How is everyone in your family?” she asked. He smiled at her for the first time and said “I believe you all are doing good”.
She looked at him puzzled. He smiled again and said, ” I have to go now”. She still didn’t understand him. He turned around slowly and started walking. Suddenly he stopped and turned around, “Nishta, my child, you still weak at Chemistry?”. He smiled at her. She was surprised.
Before she could answer, he turned and started walking. She wanted to tell him that she is a Chemistry Professor now but her voice barely came out. All she could murmur was “He recognised me”. She stood there looking at him as he walked into the crowd.
Back in the car, driver asked her “To the club?”. “Home”, she said.
A long stretch of blissful silence got interrupted by her driver’s murmur, “….Poor man! He is always like this after he lost his house & family in a fire. Dresses up and walks through the the market all day till someone feeds him. He sleeps in our Mandir…..”. “Turn back”, she said it too loud that car came to a halt, immediately.
…I will leave you here; let your imagination finish this story. Remember your favorite teacher/professor, remember their classes, imagine you in ‘her’ shoes, what would you do?
More importantly, what have you done for them; those who have helped you fill your pages of yesterday? What have you done for them?…